STUFF THAT TOURISTS IN LONDON SHOULD KNOW
I’ve been a walking tour guide here for nearly a year. People say some really stupid stuff to me. Here’s 10 suggestions to make my job and your life easier.
1. The City of London is an area within London. It is London’s financial district and not shorthand for ‘central’ London. A trip to The City involves time spent navigating streets filled with people that are the equivalent of creativity-sapping dementors – their ability to make everything go dark comes from their massive ex-rugby player shoulders obscuring the sun.
2. A walking tour in central London usually costs £10. ‘Free’ walking tour guides actually pay their boss an amount for every person who comes on the tour. If they say “tips are welcome” they actually mean “£10 is a fair amount – I’m sorry the company I work for misled you with the word ‘free’.”
3. Fish and Chips are overrated. British food is ropey unless you want to pay premium prices. At Borough Market you get awesome produce from all over the UK, but it’ll put a dent in the budget of a teenage backpacker. Go for foreign food to avoid paying £10 for a pie.
4. The Time Out website is pretty good. Londoners use it too. Don’t bother trying to find somewhere ‘off the beaten track’ unless it was recommended by someone you trust/think is well dressed (i.e me).
5. The Changing of the Guard sucks, Trafalgar Square is just a square, LONDON BRIDGE IS NOT TOWER BRIDGE, policemen are not there to be in your photo and BIG BEN IS THE NAME OF THE BELL, NOT THE TOWER.
6. If you are in a hundred year old greasy spoon in the East End do not order a flat white.
7. UK stands for the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. Great Britain includes England, Wales and Scotland. Please try not to refer to the whole of the UK as England, but also bare in mind if someone talks about Great Britain they’re probably referring to the whole of the United Kingdom. It can be a confusing synecdoche, I realise that. Sorry. But get used to it.
8. According to the scale of most countries it’s true that London and more northern cities are pretty close. But please please please don’t make the mistake of thinking you can get the tube to Old Trafford or that you can see both Abbey Road and Liverpool in the same day. These places are NOT in London.
9. Buy an oyster card. It makes things cheaper, even if you just use it pay as you go. TFL don’t make that clear enough to tourists because we like the ticket barriers to be an embarrassing experience for you. (TFL – Transport For London).
10. Bring change everywhere in central London as you’ll have to pay to use to loos unless you brave Burger King. London’s best toilets – London Bridge’s new ones are pretty swanky and the ones south of Covent Garden have won Loo of the Year so many times that the certificates obscure the bathroom attendant’s view.
I guide for Muggle Tours Harry Potter Walks, the Story of London “”””Free””””” Tour and the Undiscovered London Tour in the East End.